NYC in the 21st Century, Part 2

 

Change is hard.

That’s the truth.

As much as change makes us better, though, we rarely seek it out.

People don’t choose it, if left to our own devices. One needs training, which art school often provides, to temper our natural fear of change, and to learn to trust its inherent process.

Most of the time, though, change is thrust upon us.

It drops out of the sky, like an asteroid, ready to lay waste to the dumb dinosaurs below.

That’s far more common, right?

I mentioned this today, (writing on Wednesday,) because by the time you read this, it will likely be public knowledge that the New York Times Lens blog, my erstwhile employer, is shutting down at the end of this month.

Dead.
Done.
Kaput.

You guys know me, and writing as I do here, straight from me to you, is my particular speciality. Yet for 6 years, I learned how to write like a proper journalist.

No fucks, or shits. No first person narrative.

Thanks, NYT, I appreciate it!

But I only wrote a handful of times a year at Lens, by the end, and the money won’t make a difference in my life. (Though, like working with teenagers, I’ll miss the action.)

Rather, I feel for all the photographers who won’t be spot-lit across the globe. That blog had reach, and reach can = impact.

Speaking from experience, having “The Value of a Dollar” go viral from Lens MADE my photo career. That work is on the wall in a museum in Germany now, in 2019, and that never, ever would have happened without Lens.

These days, there are other places to publish such work. Sure. But for the photographers, losing Lens means losing opportunities.

And other places will have to pick up the slack.

Here in my column in APE, I’ll tell you that we intend to do just that.

For the rest of the summer, we’ll have portfolio review articles, exhibition reviews, and adventure pieces from the field. Between Denver, Portland, and wherever the hell I end up in Europe next week, there will be many stories to tell.

And I intend to show you the work of DOZENS of photographers.

There will be much to see, and after years of book reviews, we’re going to chill a bit on that, and bring them back at the end of summer. (Unless I need a brief break from all the action.)

Speaking of action, given the headline on this piece, I should be talking about my take on New York City and New Jersey in the 21st Century.

The Big Apple, and one of its primary suburban arms.
(Two thirds of the Tri-State Area, if you will.)

When last I left you, we’d talked about the development of NYC architecture, specifically Hudson Yards, and how a new NYC was rising in the ashes of the old.

View of Hudson Yards from the South

Global replacing local.

Sure enough, when I spoke with a long-time New Yorker in Portland, and mentioned that I’d written about the Hudson Yards Project, his first comment was to complain about how it impacts locals.

I shit you not.

The first words out of his mouth.

Change is not only scary, but it doesn’t always work out for everyone. Particularly, when people aren’t actively working to embrace change: to learn and grow from it on purpose.

(Or when they perpetually get the crap end of the stick b/c of Capitalism, Racism, etc.)

I’ve had some nasty headaches the last few weeks, and I’m sure it’s because I’ve been pushing myself so hard to have new experiences this past month.

Making new neural pathways makes us smarter and better, but I’ve found that it can nearly cause a migraine. (As did all the Op-Art I saw in Portland, but that’s another story for a different day.)

Whether it’s the New York Times deciding there’s no money in a photojournalism blog, or a proud city regaining it’s mojo in 2019, change is only predictable in its unpredictability.

So while I can laud NYC for its ability to provide the most amazing 14 miles of eating, walking and looking a husband and wife could ask for, and will tell you about it briefly, I get that the “New” New York has more than its share of detractors.

As I’m pretending to be my former mentor Tony Bourdain for the summer, (#RIP Tony,) I’ll first share that Grand Sichuan, on 9th between 24th & 25th, on the edge of the Chelsea galleries, is totally boss.

I love it, have always loved it, and recommend it highly.

As Jessie and I ate our cold spicy noodles and egg rolls, sipping our (complimentary) tea on an extended walking break, she reminded me of the time my cousin Ron took us there for the night with his wife.

Back in the early aughts.

Ron was something of a foodie, had gone to culinary school, and knew to order off the Chinese Only menu. (We had chicken that was killed that afternoon.)

We drank, ate too much, and laughed all night. A few months later, Jessie and I had Christmas dinner at Ron’s house, and decided to move back to New Mexico.

Unfortunately, Ron died a few years later.

He was one of the early victims of the opioid epidemic. A nice Jewish guy from Jersey.

The canary in the coal mine.

(Hard to segue off of this, now that I think about it, so let’s just keep going.)

Jessie and I ate our way across New York, and thank god we were burning the calories.

Concrete architecture at the mouth of the Holland Tunnel

Because as soon as we walked East from the Tribeca waterfront, near the Holland Tunnel this time, we stumbled, quite literally, upon the cronut place.

THE cronut place.

Dominique Ansel Bakery

Dominique Ansel Bakery. We read a sign about the line as we were walking by, but there were only 5 people in it. So we joined up, waited a few minutes, and then had some great coffee and pastries.

The salted caramel eclair was divine, the almond coconut chocolate croissant was really good, and the Nutella milk bread was highly disappointing.

They have a lovely outdoor courtyard that was quiet and spacious, which I highly recommend, and the massive Cafe Au Lait powered me up for the walk back to our hotel in Koreatown.

At the recommendation of Darren Ching, of Brooklyn’s Klompching gallery, we went across the street from our hotel to Madangsui, a Korean BBQ place, and ended up eating everything the next morning as breakfast. (As I told you in Part 1.) The food was brilliant: kimchee pancake, and a stone bowl bulgogi bibimbap that the waitress turned over table-side.

Koreatown

Yes, we ate in New York. The food was so good, and surprisingly affordable. As for the art, Jessie and I visited the Rubin Museum, in Chelsea, and saw some transcendental Tibetan and Buddhist work, including a re-created shrine that gave me goosebumps.

Recreations of Buddhist art depicting Yogic poses.

Five stars for sure.

But anyone can tell you about New York City.

New Jersey, though, requires a deft touch. (Me and David Chase. A short list.)

New Jersey never really changes, I thought. The shore, the nasty refineries along the Turnpike.

Bruce Springsteen, and the Best Pizza in America.
Skee ball and strip malls and Down-to-Earth people.

The world I knew was made of 2nd and 3rd generation Americans, the children and grand-children of immigrants who arrived at and ultimately fled New York City.

Mostly Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, and Jewish-Americans, with some Central European/Slavic folks thrown in there as well.

In my town, though, we also had a large contingent of Asian-Americans, which was somewhat rare. (Back then, I didn’t distinguish between Chinese-Americans and Korean-Americans, Indian-Americans and Pakistani-Americans, as I would now.)

We had all sorts of Asian-Americans growing up in my hometown of Holmdel, NJ, because there was a gargantuan Bell Labs facility in the center of town.

A massive complex, set a half-mile back off the road, with a trippy-ass-space-ship looking tower in the front, which was as strange as it sounds.

For the uninitiated, Bell Labs was an offshoot of Alexander Graham Bell, and for much of the 20th Century was the most important research facility in the world.

In the world?

Sure. Why not.
Along with Livermore and Los Alamos, I guess.

It was right there in the heart of Holmdel, a place where they discovered, invented or refined radio wave technology, lasers, internet stuff, and all sorts of things.

It was a Nobel Prize factory, in the middle of corn fields that had been tended by Dutch colonists since the 17th Century. (Legit 1600’s for sure.)

And then…

Mergers. Breakups. Bankruptcies.

All of a sudden, it was Lucent, and then it was gone.

Out of business.
Permanently.

So an enormous building sat there empty, for years, reeking of the ghosts of America’s past

Until…

Now.
2019.

The present.

An Orthodox Jewish developer came along, called it Bell Works, and turned the entire Saarinen-designed-space into a mixed use development. Hotel, conference center, restaurants, shops, an indoor soccer field.

What?
And indoor soccer field?

Bell Works

Saarinen’s design touch.

The Holmdel Public Library moved in, and they have a museum area dedicated to Bell Labs and its history. Plus, the place backs up on public park land, so it can be accessed on foot as well as by car.

I was flabbergasted.

Jessie and I ate samosas from an Indian-American-run convenience store INSIDE Bell Labs. With tamarind and cilantro chutneys. And it was really good!

Back in the 70’s and 80’s, you could have pizza or Chinese food, burgers in bar joints, or maybe Jewish Deli, and that was about it.

But it’s not the 20th Century anymore.

Not by a long shot.

And New Jersey, like its big brother NYC, also suffered tremendously from Hurricane Sandy as well, which I wrote about here back in 2013 or ’14. (Even I lose track sometimes.)

Sure enough, just like NYC, the Jersey Shore, which had been annihilated by Sandy, is now thriving.

Booming. Exploding!

I read in the Star Ledger that Pier Village, a shore development in Long Branch that DID NOT EXIST when I was in high school, was adding an additional 450 condominium units.

450!

And then I went there, as my buddy Felt moved into an ocean-front apartment last year. (My wife and I helped him decorate the place on a stoner ramble through NYC last April that I didn’t write about…)

Me and Felt, (who’s real name is Matt,) hung out at the Bat Mitzvah in North Jersey that drew me East, where thankfully the Italian-American food was flowing, and I drank Hennessy all day like it was going out of style.

Then I got to visit Felt’s apartment a couple of days later, and walked down a corridor so long that I got scared of “The Shining,” forgot about the reference, and then got scared of “The Shining” again, because the walk was 3 minutes long.

Looking Northeast at Pier Village

Looking Southeast at Pier Village

That’s how big they’re building these things.

And as Sandy destroyed so many buildings, clearing land, new developments were everywhere, trying to peddle chic.

Chic?

“South Beach at Long Branch” is a thing.

It’s not a joke. It’s real.

My theory is that once the Millennials decided Asbury Park was cool, as it gentrified, and they lacked the same biases against Jersey that their parents had, (Hamptons or bust,) it only made sense that these other beach towns, closer and MORE accessible, would start getting hot.

But trendy?
Like Miami?

I don’t buy it.

Rather, I think anyone who hangs out at the Jersey Shore will just end up getting Jersified.

So do ya-self a favuh, eat some great calamari at Rockafellers, ride some waves this summuh, and make sure ta tell ya friends.

You know what I’m sayin’?

My Aunt and kids after dinner at Rockafellers.

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Fernando Decillis

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist:  Fernando Decillis

Patria Gaucha

In Uruguay, the gaucho is a national symbol of character. He is honest, self-sufficient, proud but humble, generous, brave, and most of all; he is free. The gaucho lifestyle is solitary, nomadic, gritty, and full of rich traditions. In the open grasslands, gauchos round-up cattle and wild horses. they hone skillful tricks to bend the will of large herds.

As a child in Montevideo, I remember seeing these dignified horsemen towering above my head as they paraded through the streets with their wide-brimmed hats, ponchos, boots with spurs, sheepskins, leather whips, and long, sheathed knives during the gaucho festivals. Since I left thirty years ago, I have dreamed of going back to photograph the heroes of my childhood.

Every year, in the small village of Tacuarembó, Uruguayan gauchos travel from all over the country for the Fiesta de la Patria Gaucha. They share traditional yerba mate, cook over open fires, and compete against one another in games of skill with wild horses and cattle.

The weeklong festival ends with the jineteada gaucha, where gauchos compete to ride untamed horses. The display of skill and showmanship highlights the bravery of the gaucho lifestyle, and the relationship between the men and the animals they live alongside.

To watch untamed horses in the wild is to behold the spirit of life itself, expansive, driven, without limitation. These are the faces of the men whose lives are rooted in a tradition of breaking that spirit, to carry humanity farther and faster toward one another and into the unknown.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

 

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

 

Pricing and Negotiating: Lifestyle shoot for Telecommunications Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Lifestyle images of families interacting in a residential property

Licensing: Print Collateral use, Web Collateral use and Web Advertising use of up to 35 images for two years from file delivery.

Photographer: Portraiture specialist

Agency: Medium in size, based in the Northeast

Client: Telecommunications company

Here is the estimate:

 

Creative/Licensing Fees: There were approximately seven scenarios the agency hoped to capture, each focusing on different talent interacting in various setups around a house. They primarily planned to use the images for collateral and web advertising purposes, and in addition to excluding print advertising use, we were able to limit the usage to two years. I felt the first image was worth $3,000, the second and third worth $2,000 each, the fourth and fifth $1,000 each, and the sixth and seventh worth $500 each. That totaled $10,000, and I added a creative fee of $2,500 on top of that to reach $12,500. While they anticipated licensing 35 total images, it was clear that they’d be variations on a theme, with them likely walking away with one hero shot per setup, which is why I priced this by the scenario/setup and not by the image.

Tech/Scout and Pre-Pro Day: We included one tech/scout day for a walkthrough of the location before the shoot, and one pre-pro day for the photographer to line up his crew and prepare for his responsibilities detailed in the expenses.

Assistants and Digital Tech: The first assistant would attend both the shoot day and the tech/scout day, while the second assistant and the digital tech would attend the shoot.

Hair/Makeup Styling: We included a stylist and an assistant for the shoot day. We’d be working with real people, rather than professional talent, and the hair/makeup would likely be rather minimal.

Wardrobe Styling: The talent would be bringing their primary wardrobe, however, we included a wardrobe stylist to shop for supplemental clothing pieces before the shoot, and anticipated that they’d have an assistant attend the shoot and then help return any unused items. We also included $1,000 to cover the actual costs of the supplemental wardrobe.

Prop Styling: It’s always a bit of a challenge estimating prop styling for a shoot in a residential property without first seeing scouting photos or knowing the full scope of prop needs. Sometimes it’s just about adding minor items into the scene or tweaking what’s already there, and other times major pieces of furniture need to be acquired and brought to set. In this case, we included four days for a prop stylist and an assistant, anticipating they’d need at least a day or two to shop, a day to be on set, and perhaps a day to accompany the team to the tech/scout to assess the location, in addition to making returns if needed. We marked these line items TBD, as well as the $2,500 prop budget we estimated.

Styling Expenses: This covered miscellaneous expenses primarily for the wardrobe and prop stylists related to the acquisition and transportation of their provisions.

Van Rental: The photographer would likely rent a van to help transport his equipment and his immediate crew to set.

Equipment: This covered a mix of the photographer’s gear, as well as supplemental lighting/grip he would likely need to rent.

Mileage, Parking, Additional Meals, Misc.:  This covered miscellaneous expenses for both the tech/scout day and shoot day, and also provided a bit of a safety net for unanticipated costs.

Delivery of Content on Hard Drive: All of the content would be provided to the client on a hard drive upon completion of the shoot.

Client Provisions: Detailed at the top of the estimate were all of the items that the client would provide, that would be necessary for such a production. These items/tasks included casting, talent, releases, location, permits, production coordination, catering/craft, production RV and all post processing/retouching.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project with only some negotiation regarding the shoot date.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at 610.260.0200 or reach out. We’re available to help with any pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

The Daily Edit – META: Dean Bradshaw

- - The Daily Edit

 

META

Creative Director and Editor-In-Chief: Ben Giese
Photographer:
Dean Bradshaw


Heidi: Is this the first time working for META?

Dean: This wasn’t the first story that I shot for Meta, I did a film and photo series on freestyle motocross rider and all around amazing person, Jimmy Hill previously.

Did you bring this story idea to them, or was this assigned?
This trip was prompted by me buying a Harley which coinciding with a road trip planned by friends and co-collaborators Justin Chatwin and Jay Zaretsky. We rode 3000 or so miles starting in Venice, California up into Western Oregon; across the state and part of the coast – returning to Los Angeles some 10 or so days later. The trip wasn’t assigned by Meta – it just sounded like the right kind of adventure. As always, I took a camera to document the journey. My friend Ben who runs Meta seemed like the perfect person to put the story to print and he encouraged us to have Justin write to accompany the images. Justin’s words really helped bring the piece together.

What type of creative direction did you get from the magazine? 
Ben made selects from the thousands of images I shot and then Justin wrote small diary-style entries to accompany the images since we didn’t have a consistent narrative.

Over how many days did you shoot this?
10 days on the road, we camped most of the way and carried everything we needed on our bikes.

Tell us about the making of some of these images
Sometimes the best images come without intention and are based purely on living some kind of adventure. I would like to be doing more of this and thankfully I have an amazing group of friends who live this way.

How did you hear of this publication?
I first heard about Meta probably 5 years or so ago, first just through the motorcycle circles and then through my ad agency friends at Team One who at that time were working on Indian Motorcycles. I met Ben and Andrew who started the magazine soon after whilst on a motorcycle ride in Colorado. We became fast friends and I’m a big believer in the attention to detail and hard work they put into the magazine. Ben brings an elevated aesthetic to motorcycle culture, something I also feel strongly about.

Where did your love of motorcycles come from? Are you a collector?
My love with motorcycles comes from starting to ride a dirt bike around 6 or 7 years ago in the vast California and Nevada desert and then having some amazingly passionate friends who I have learned everything from. I love the people, the  bikes and the culture – it’s an awesome community and helps satisfy my love for adventure and camaraderie. I suppose some day, in s decade or two,  I’ll call myself a collector – but for now I just have one too many motorcycles – A Harley Dyna FXDX, Triumph Scrambler, Honda Dirt Bike and an old 90’s BMW GS. I already have plans for one or two more.

The Daily Promo – Andrew Kemmis

Andrew Kemmis

Who printed it?
It was printed by Newspaper Club.

Who designed it?
I did the design work myself. I have a pretty solid background in publication design so looked at this promo as a fun personal challenge. And I was eager to give the newspaper format a shot. I really like it.

Tell me about the images?
For the past four years I have been the lead photographer and photo team manager for VidCon US, a rather large and massively popular convention that takes place in Anaheim, CA each summer. Last year I think there were about 30,000 people in attendance. Each year the photo goal is a bit different, but usually it boils down to visually capturing the spirit of the convention. Seeing as how the audience tends to be mostly tweens and teens, there is never any lack of energy or excitement or pure, unbridled fun happening. It’s probably an exaggeration, but when I am there I constantly feel like I’m witnessing the front row of a Beatles concert. The days are long, but throughout the multi-day event I photograph everything from panel discussions to keynote speeches to spontaneous dance parties to arena concerts. There’s even a mock prom at the end that is outta’ this world. I absolutely love the energy, the variety and the access I have to it all.

Last year (VidCon 2018) the creative team at VidCon had a different idea for the images they wanted. Rather than repeat the same strategy of several photographers simply covering the event, we sent one shooter out to cover specific activations and general hype, and decided to have me set up a portrait studio in the back of house area, where all of the big name YouTube creators would be entering the building. VidCon’s COO, Colin Hickey had the brilliant idea of having a variety of animals on hand to entice the creators over to me … and it worked like crazy. So I found myself in the back corner of a huge convention center with some of YouTube’s biggest names … and puppies, goats, pigs, and bunnies. Absolutely surreal. I am completely in love with the experience and the images I created. Here is a link to a gallery of some of them: http://www.andrewkemmis.com/vidcon-portraits

How many did you make?
I made 50 of these.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I send out promos about 1-2 times per year.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I do think printed promos are effective. In my eyes, marketing always takes a multi-pronged approach, and print is a very strong and important part of the equation.

This Week in Photography Books: Trace

 

Let’s be honest.

The right piece of advice, at just the right time, can make all the difference.

For example, a friend once told me, when the voices in your head get too loud, turn the music up even louder.

(That’s wisdom, people.)

I decided to try it on Tuesday, as I twitched and shook from the collective exhaustion of a full-week on the road in Portland, followed by a 2-day-trip-home, after flight cancellations and delays saw me land in Albuquerque in the middle of the night.

I had one song that I thought might do the trick, once I finally got home, so I ran a hot bath, and turned that shit up as loud as it would go.

What was my magic musical potion, you ask?

The “Old Town Road Remix” by Lil’ Nas X.

Have you heard it yet?

That shit is so hot it makes my eyeballs melt. A genuine 2019 fusion that shakes the rump and boggles the mind.

And given that not ONE but TWO top African-American NFL draft picks ran videos of them riding their horses, last week during the draft telecast, this song is totally of the now.

Straight out of the Dirty South.

Who knows why places have their moment at a given time?

In Hip-Hop, of course there’s the Bronx and Queens for the early days, and the world would be very different if Ice Cube and Dre had never come along out there in California. (You too, EZ.)

But that Atlanta trap sound over the last few years, with artists like Migos, has felt like a true cultural breakthrough in the age of Trump.

And perhaps it actually arose in opposition?

It’s definitely a theme I discovered at Photolucida last week. So many photographers, (including me,) had their stories of a project, or image, that was catalyzed by the campaign/election/inauguration/Trump’s first two years.

Quick synopsis: the trip was genuinely brilliant, and one of the best I’ve ever had.

But I’m far to tired and woozy, (or Bad and Bougie,) to get into the details today.

Especially as Portland will certainly be a 3 or 4 part series in the coming months.

Rather, we’re going to do a short-ish book review, so I can go drool on myself in the corner and try not to operate heavy machinery.

A few months ago, “Trace,” a little, sleek, 3-book-collection turned up in the mail from Yoffy Press in, (you guessed it,) Atlanta, GA.

I’ve reviewed two of their publications before, the experimental “1864,” by Matthew Brandt, and the excellent, photography-to-combat-depression-movement-building “Too Tired For Sunshine,” by Tara Wray.

In a world of true confessions, the publisher, Jennifer Yoffy, is a long time colleague who came out to ski this February, and we’re in discussions to do a book together, which will be my first. (If you can believe it.)

I’ve gone on the record before with these relationships, so you can decide for yourself if I’m showing you good work, or being nepotistic. (Or both.)

But in this case, I’ve supported her program in the column before, and this book arrived before we even decided to work together, so I feel like we’re in the clear. (You may, of course, disagree.)

“Trace” is a compilation of 3 small books, as I said, and it’s not hard to keep them in order, once they come out of the slip, because the title spells itself out across the collection.

Kota Ezawa’s book is first, and it’s a head trip for sure. The truth is, they all are. This book is a literal embodiment of how I feel as a human being right now, and for that, I love it.

For his book, Kota Ezawa presents an image that builds piece by piece, and is clearly not photographic. Only at the end, or nearly the end, do we realize that it’s built upon one of the most iconic images ever made: JFK’s family by his graveside.

The image grows, section by section, and then you know what it is. Of course that last picture, adding in John Jr, tugs at your heart in a surprising way.

Book 2 is by my long-time colleague Tabitha Soren, by now an acclaimed artist, who was once known as a very-young VJ on MTV, in another lifetime.

I saw these pictures, from the project “Surface Tension,” at Euqinom Gallery in San Francisco in 2017, and thought they were incredible. Ironically, she’d once showed me an early version, on a tablet, at a festival, and I didn’t get it.

I was dubious.

But as prints on the wall, and in book form, (and fully finished,) this project is as smart as it is visually arresting. Scary cats, scary Harvey Weinstein, it’s all the same.

Our made marks, and our attentions spun, are all pulsing through our devices these days.

The Matrix has arrived, and we’re all plugging in willingly.

Final shout out to the title page on Tabitha’s book, as they are surprisingly good. I’ll be sure to photograph it for below.

Finally, the package has a book by Penelope Umbrico, an artist I’ve had the pleasure to hear speak twice, and have interviewed for the column as well. (Check out the long read here.)

Penelope is easily one of the smartest artists I’ve encountered, and yet she manages to use visuals well too. (Total package.)

This project features just the digital circles and made marks, the trace lines around defects on used screens being sold on Ebay.

She spends hours and hours, collectively years of her life, pursuing the digital rabbit holes that help us understand the world around us.

Penelope, I salute you.

And now, as I still have to work today, and even tomorrow, (before I get the nap I so dearly deserve,) I will leave you.

Bottom Line: Beautiful, smart, killer little compilation

To purchase “Trace” click here 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We’re particularly interested in submissions from female photographers, and artists of color, so we may maintain a diverse program. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Naomi Harris

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist:  Naomi Harris

EUSA – Artist Statement

On a trip to the mountains just north of Atlanta, Georgia, I came upon this odd little town called Helen. Once a thriving mining community, by the 1970s they were suffering from a recession. They called a town meeting and decided to turn their hamlet into a Bavarian wonderland bringing in tourist dollars. So today, in the Deep South, among all the gingerbread shops selling Confederate flag tee shirts, the world’s largest Oktoberfest is held, for three months.

This got me wondering, if this exists in Helen, what other American cities have been modeled after imaginary European villages. And for that matter, are there any places in Europe that were designed to look like America?

Globalization has made the uniqueness of a particular country less significant thus creating an indistinguishable common world community.We wear the same clothes, eat the same meals, use the same iPhones, we are all interconnected.  EUSA is a reaction to this homogenization of European and American cultures. Being enthralled by another country’s way of life does not mean that it is always an accurate portrayal rather it becomes a sentimental and idealized depiction; an homage to a heritage that isn’t ones own.

In America these “European” venues resemble a land of make-believe. Like something out of a fairy tale, they are magical, whimsical and quaint. In Europe their fascination lies in an America of the past, when the US was considered glorious and free, a place full of fresh starts and opportunities. The foundation of these locations was to honour the “other,” but what was once characteristic has now ultimately become a caricature.

I began this project in June 2008 photographing a weekend rendezvous for re-enactors at High Chaparral, a country western them park in the south of Sweden. There people spent the weekend living in rustic tents as “Indians” or “Confederate Soldiers” leaving all of their modern-day conveniences locked in their cars. Since then I visited over twenty-five locations on both sides of the Atlantic including Sioux City, a movie-studio-turned-tourist-attraction in Grand Canaria, Spain;‘Indian’ festivals in Germany: a Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa: an American Civil War reenactment in the Czech Republic; a Viking festival in Alaska; a rockabilly festival in the countryside outside Budapest, Hungary;a Maifest in Leavenworth, Washington; numerous Oktoberfests around the United States, and a variety of ‘Cowboy and Indian’ amusement parks throughout Europe.

At first sight it is often difficult to locate where and when these photos were taken; are we in the U.S, or somewhere in Europe? Upon closer examination, something inevitably reveals how out-of-place it is, and we are aware of our “error”.

In other images it is much more obvious that what we are looking at is built and artificial – a benign pastiche to the more insidious and offensive forms of cultural appropriation. These exaggerated reconstructions bear little authenticity and what was once characteristic has now ultimately become a caricature.

Photographing the visitors playing dress-up in these various maudlin locations within these two continents,my goal was to illustrate the enthusiasm we have for one another’s heritage, and demonstrate this universal phenomenon that is a reaction to the homogenization of our cultures.And through this spirit of camaraderie, if only for that moment, the participants are granted membership to one another’s culture.

To see more of this project, click here.

Naomi Harris and her project EUSA which has gone from a personal project to a published book and now an exhibition as part of the inaugural Photoville LA which runs April 26 – 28 and May 3 – 5. You can visit both the exhibition and the artist herself where she’ll be selling books (and if you’re lucky she may be wearing her dirndl) at Photoville which is being held at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Century Park, 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles, CA 90067

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

 

The Daily Edit – Condé Nast Traveler: Bill Phelps

- - The Daily Edit

Condé Nast Traveler

Photo Director: Caroline Metcalf
Photographer: Bill Phelps

Heidi: What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
Bill: “It was the perfect assignment for a few reasons. First, it was in a city I had been longing to visit, I love Italy, and this was truly special.
My editor simply told me – “go to Palermo, and come back.” I think one of the best things a photo editor can do on an assignment like this is to show trust in the photographers they hire. They were drawn to the photographers work for a reason, and letting them do their natural best is key. It frees up the experience to really be open to the unexpected, which is exactly what happened here for me.

Had you been to Italy before?
Yes. I was reminded of a shoot I had done in Tuscany a few years before where I was working with Alduino Ventimiglia, a descendent of Frederick the 2nd of Sicily.
He is the man responsible for saving a breed of Sicilian war-horse, the Persano stallion. One evening we were speaking of Sicily, and he asked me “what do you think of when you
think of Sicily” “mystery,” I said. “exactly” he said. I’m not sure if a photographer can be assigned to “shoot” mystery, it is something you must experience when you’re not looking. Palermo, like other Italian cities I have been to -Napoli, or Tropea for example, has many layers of mystery. It has a kind of shiny and forward busy side, as well as a deeply poetic dark side. The connection between the two is the “vena cava” of sorts, I was excited to see what the city was willing to show me.

Who did you travel with?
My Italian producer from Rome was available to accompany me.

What was the first thing you did upon landing?
Upon landing from Rome, we were immediately in search of local delicacies. The fish, the sea urchin, the infusions and digestifs. The weather was building, it was hot, and there was a beautiful pressure in the air. We found a small, beautiful place, with a sidewalk terrace covered by a canvas canopy. The food was simple and perfect, the light from the encroaching storm was telling and moody, I loved it. Near the closing
of our meal, the sky opened up and flooded the streets, reflecting the “bruised” sky and shifting clouds, we remained at our table outside beneath the canvas roof, sipping a beautiful, herbaceous liquor made from laurel leaves. The first two shots of the printed story were taken after the storm – the two upper left images. Upon leaving, I noticed in the corner of one of the windows, a tiny sticker reading “Member of the Moto Guzzi owners club.” I asked about the location of the club, thinking it might offer a possible view into a stylish corner of the city, I also own a vintage Moto Guzzi, so I was personally intrigued.

 Did you have a shot list?
We had no shot list, the mystery unfolded in front of us, as we moved from moment to moment, person to person, meal to meal. Our first hotel was hidden in a backstreet, and inspired some exploration. Having given up on the motorcycle club, but still keen to find some Italian machines, I noticed a flash of red through a door barely open. We stopped, and had a look. It turned out to be an old bike shop run by its original owner, vintage Italian exotica, like the Binelli race bike also pictured. It turned out that the bike shop had been a theater for puppetry, still adorned with handprint murals, and backdrops. I asked about the tradition of Marionettes, and puppet theater, they happily lead me to the master, also pictured below.

As a photographer, my work is to make memories, storytelling is key. This trip in particular was loaded with
experience, a testament to the trust of my editor Caroline Metcalf. If I had been chasing down a shot list, none of this might have happened.

How did you find your subjects?
Our first night there, I was shooting shadows in a back alley, the sun had just gone down. I heard something which sounded like a metal knife on glass, clinking in a window above me. I looked up and saw a woman chipping wax off of some antique candle sticks. She asked me if I was looking for something, I said I was looking for shadows. I noticed the fresco covered ceiling behind her, and asked if she lived there. She said yes, and it was a studio as well. I told her it looked beautiful, and that we were shooting for a magazine. She asked if we wanted to come up for a drink, of course we said yes. She turned out to be a furniture designer, and was having people over for dinner. We helped her in the kitchen, set the table, and were there for the evening, it was amazing, and we are still in touch. I mentioned I was interested to find some characters to shoot, and I wanted to breathe in some style. She gave it some thought, and connected me to a friend the very next day. We met at the studio a day later, went through her closet, and dressed her
friend Lucrezia in clothes I found in her closet. Lucrezia turned out to be a photographer, director, performer, we too are still in contact, the layers continue.

 How many days were you there?
I  believe we were there for 4 days? maybe 5?

Did you submit those grids of images or did they edit those for you?
They got so many pictures out of it, they had to spread it out using grids, a good problem to have.
I do play with diptychs in my own edits, and feel it helps create contrast graphically, but it also helps to tell a story and create a narrative.

Did you turn in both black and white and color?
I mixed black and white and color, they pretty much went with what I sent.

The Daily Promo – Kate Abbey

- - The Daily Promo

Kate Abbey

Who printed it?
ProCo in Sheffield, UK

Who designed it?
The wonderful Pete and Mark at Caslon&Co.

Tell me about the images?
Last year was my most prosperous year as far as great accounts/brands go, which meant I had very little time to concentrate on personal work. The result being a large crop of brands, which when ordered up, pretty much covered the alphabet. A few of my clients had commented on the strong brands I worked with, so it seemed natural to do a promo around this. The downside is I had lots of strong names with the same letter and could only show one and perhaps I wouldn’t have shown a weaker image on another letter, but had no other option – but as a collective group, the idea works and the concept pulls it altogether.

How many did you make?
I printed off 300 for my UK contacts and will do the same for NYC

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Historically, I’ve been terrible and do it every few years, but I so enjoyed doing this and the feedback has been worth the investment. It’s inspired me to do it 3 times a year, but possibly on a smaller scale for the next 2 mailouts. More recently, I’ve been able to fit in personal work, so the next promo will be based around that.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Absolutely. My promo goes out to creatives who appreciate the tactile nature of a mailer and are the type who would smell the paper and study the manufacture of it, and file it away for future reference. It has to stand out if you’re wanting to capture someone’s attention in the sea of imagery. And besides all of that, it’s something I’ve enjoyed doing and love the results, so I get a thrill form the process too.

NYC in the 21st Century, Part 1

 

I’m just back from New York, and am off to Portland tomorrow, where I’ll be when this article drops.

(Yes, I have a headache.)

I’ve been traveling a lot lately, and there’s plenty more to come, so today it’s time to tell you what I observed, as a journalist, in New York and New Jersey earlier this month.

It’s important to date it, because in 2019, these places I know so well have finally stood up tall and joined the 21st Century.

Proudly.

They’ve developed, or grown, in ways that feel authentic, and at times exciting. (As someone who grew up and lived there.) It’s a funny word to use, development, because among a certain political class, it’s almost always seen as a bad thing.

Gentrification –> Development = Low-income residents getting pushed out.

That’s normally the equation, and I get it. (My MFA thesis project in 2004 was about corn fields in my suburban hometown getting turned into McMansions.)

Sure, it was a Dutch farming village for 300 years before my parents got there, but I didn’t want those farms to become more suburbs.

No more people like me moving in to spoil it!

I gentrified the Southern end of the Mission District in San Francisco in 1999, and then Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 2002, and left both places as they were getting too trendy.

Hell, Jessie and I moved back to Taos in 2005 expecting hordes of Gen Xers to follow us, but instead it’s been the Millennials who’ve gotten in on the action in the last three or four years.

All of which is to say, I’ve been a gentrifier, and one who took pains at each new farm that was plowed under for another house like my own.

In general, over the course of my life, I’d say I tended towards the condemnation of massive real estate developments, and appreciated when things stayed the same, as they did in San Francisco for 10 years after I left.

But now, the San Francisco skyline has been ruined by Salesforce, the local culture is supposedly all about tech bros, and I’d have to think hard about how many people I know who live in the city these days, rather than in the surrounding area.

New York City, though, is something different. (As is New Jersey, which we’ll get to in Part 2.)

Yes, it’s my home turf, and I’m biased. I’ve written before that I grew up able to see the Twin Towers from my hometown, gleaming across the bay.

I took it personally when the towers were destroyed in 2001, but I think something of New York’s soul was taken too. Not that it’s people were cowed, because that will never happen.

(Not in my lifetime, anyway.)

Old New York near Herald Square

Rather, the skyline was ruptured so badly, and then the local politicking, which is always dirty in New York, kept the Freedom tower from getting built FOREVER.

Really, you can look it up.

When did the Freedom Tower open to the public?

(Rare Google break…)

OK. I’m back. 2014.

That’s when the first tenant moved in.

It took New York City 13 years to replace it’s iconic Southern anchor to the skyline.

And even then, the building is just OK.

In the interim, there was a phase where some very average looking, minimalistic residential super-towers were built, which made the city lean wrong, and all that visual weight went towards the super-rich, with their part time crash pads. (I accidentally wrote cash pads, which is a good Freudian slip.)

Looking South from the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel

Nowadays, in 2019, finally, I’m thrilled to report that New York City has grown in exciting and beautiful ways. (Revitalizing growth that sometimes gets a bad rap, I think.)

In my experience, New York City has become a global tourism Mecca. In the sense that, like Paris, it now belongs to everyone.

And sometimes that comes at the expense of the locals.

Certainly, Manhattan, Brooklyn and now probably Queens are not affordable for “regular” people. Not unless you live “all-the-fuck-out-there” by the ocean.

And even where I’m from, in New Jersey, or in other outlying areas like Long Island or Westchester, the cost of living is high across the board. (Food, rent/home prices, transportation…)

Manhattan just adopted congestion pricing for the first time, to charge people for driving in the heart of the city, and the cost of tolls at bridges is nearly $20 as is.

In particular, though, I’d like to discuss Hudson Yards, the new mega-development by Stephen Ross, which recently opened in what used to be called Hell’s Kitchen on Manhattan’s in Midtown’s Far West Side.

Approaching Hudson Yards from the North

It was supposedly built on a $1 Billion platform over a railyard, and I’ve seen that tactic used in public parks in Chicago and Dallas to good effect. (In Dallas it was over highway, but still…)

Hudson Yards has gotten panned, from what I’ve heard, because it really was built for rich people, and tourists. (I guess I’m kind of the latter, these days.)

 

Looking East towards Old New York

Looking West to Hudson Yards

Looking up at the Hudson Yards skyscrapers

There are something like six new blue-glass skyscrapers by Starchitects, and they surround a big public courtyard with the the Shed, a public art space, and the massively expensive “Vessel,” a glowing bronze public art project for which you have to get a free ticket.

The Vessel

Getting the shot for Instagram

View from inside the Vessel

Looking down off the platform


It is literally a stairway that goes nowhere, built to be an Instagram backdrop, and it does that job well. I was little confused by the physical placement within the city skyline, if it’s meant to be iconic, but then I noticed this ad in The New Yorker, which about sums up the demographic.

The Vessel is apparently visible from New Jersey

On the lower levels of one of the buildings is a huge shopping mall and food court featuring very expensive and/or trendy brands. (Muji is not fancy, but it is cool.)

I understand my point may be somewhat controversial, but I’ve been to that part of town, over the years, and it was a bit of a wasteland.

I can also attest, at 45, that New York has always been about money.

It’s the heart of Capitalism, for crying out loud.

So as a former resident, and now regular visitor, I accept that it was always going to become too expensive for people like me to actually live there.

Hell, I don’t want to live there.

The air quality and weather suck, and it’s too busy for every day.

But seeing such beautiful, gleaming buildings in Hudson Yards, it inspired me.

They’re gorgeous.

And everywhere you look, including in odd places like the Lower East Side, there are new-looking skyscrapers that balance the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, and support the Freedom Tower, which was never meant to carry downtown alone.

(Brooklyn has tons of new hi-rise buildings too, so many that when my father-in-law last visited in 2004, there were none, he confirmed.)

Sticking with Manhattan, though, Hudson Yards blends right into the northern end of the High Line through Chelsea, which is itself a phenomenal piece of design and public space.

Whereas in the past, right at the junction between the two, there might have been a locally owned pizza place, now, it’s a restaurant by Jose Andres and the Adria Brothers. That’s a massive change, and I can see how some people might hate it. (I still miss the ubiquity of a great slice.)

Between the architecture that’s grown around the High Line, like the Zaha Hadid masterpiece, to the nature planted within it, the High Line is always popular, and rightly so.

(We went twice, and each time it was wall-to-wall people, speaking countless languages.)

The High Line ends in the new Whitney, which conveniently flows into Hudson River park, which goes south along the waterfront along the city.

Looking North from the beginning of the High Line

Zaha Hadid building along the High Line

It’s fantastic, frankly.

And none of it was there when I moved back to town in 2002.

I haven’t mentioned Hurricane Sandy, yet, which hit in 2012, but that was a real punch in the nose for the Tri-State Area.

Given that New York is a money town, between 9/11, the following market crash, the 2008 crash, and then Sandy, the city was properly down on its knees.

Maybe not like the big bad 70s, but New York looked stale, visually, and I’d argue maybe it was.

As cities like Shanghai and Dubai raced towards the future, New York seemed stuck in the past.

But no longer.

On a Pier looking South towards the Freedom Tower

These days, I think it’s pretty badass that New York has opened itself proudly to the world.

It’s thriving, and looks pretty great too. (Except for the garbage on the streets, because New York is always gonna New York.)

There’s so much more to tell, (including a few anecdotes about AIPAD,) but we’re nearing 1500 words, and I’ve got photos this time!

There’s no need to over-do it, so I’ll run it back with Part 2 next week.

Have a good one.

The Art of the Personal Project: Dasha Pears

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist:  Dasha Pears

Photography turned out to be a way of discovering my true-self and expressing it. My works are a reflection of this discovery process and I hope that they can help others who are on the same journey as me. In metaphorical ways I try to show and share processes that are going on in many people’s minds: dealing with negative self-talk, being overwhelmed by all kinds of emotions, finding that activity that puts you in the state of flow, when time ceases to exist.

My photography is influenced by classical fine art, surrealism, as well as fantasy and science fiction books. The instruments of surrealism help me show that the scene is only partially real and that most of it is going on in the character’s mind. My works are carefully composed and many of them are leaning towards minimalism. This is my way of expressing that controlling your mind and creating space is crucial for discovering who you are and who you are not.

  

To see more of this project, click here.

To purchase prints, click here

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Dasha Pears is an award-winning Russian conceptual photographer, currently based in Helsinki, Finland. Dasha’s unique style is dreamlike and whimsical. Her works tell stories that combine real life and surrealism, making the viewer stop and think.

She started her photographic path in 2011, after reaching burnout in a marketing communications career. Having tried many types of photography, Dasha found herself in conceptual and fine art sphere. Since then her images have been exhibited in Russia, France, Poland, Austria and Finland. Her work was also named among the winners of Best of Russia’15, had an honorable mention during Trierenberg Super Circuit 2017 and 2018 photography contests in Linz, Austria, and won a bronze medal during Prix de la Photographie Paris, 2018. Dasha’s photographs are used worldwide by companies like Trevillion, ArcAngel, plainpicture and Millennium Images, and can be found on covers of books published in Europe, the United States and South America.

In 2016 Dasha started sharing her experience of organizing conceptual photography shoots and producing surrealist artworks in the form of creative photography workshops. Since then she has held over 15 events in Finland and abroad.

This website is for Dasha’s fine art photography. Follow on Instagram. For commercial portfolio please check www.dashapears.com.

 

The Daily Edit – The Fringe Podcast: Shaughn and John

- - The Daily Edit



The Fringe

Photographers: Shaughn and John

Heidi: Why a podcast? How did this come about?
Shaughn and John: As a photo team we’ve realized that working together in the same physical space helps us to make the most of the days we aren’t on set shooting.  Although we both live in the LA area there is about 50 miles separating us, which means at least 2 hours of driving per day.  Like a lot of people these days the way we cope with the long drive is by listening to an insane amount of podcasts.  Whether it be true crime, investigative, daily news or interview style, we love being absorbed in stories while we commute.  What began as a fun way of keeping ourselves occupied evolved into a conversation about what a Shaughn and John podcast would look like.  We agreed that the best idea was to create a podcast that matched the style and approach of our personal documentary projects.  Whether it is through photos, video and now audio we love telling the stories of fringe groups and subcultures.

Which podcasts do you both listen to?
We each have our favorite genres. Shaughn leans towards true crime (Sword and Scale, Casefile, True Crime All the Time) and I (John) lean towards investigative podcasts (The Daily, The Dropout, The Dream).  But there is definitely a ton of overlap.  Some of our recent shared favorites include: Uncover, Bomber, Dirty John, Heaven’s Gate, S-Town, and Up and Vanished.

What is the criteria for a subculture to make the cut?
There isn’t exactly a criteria but we both constantly have an ear to the ground searching for our next big project.  Subcultures that make you scratch your head and wonder what a day in their life looks like always intrigue us.

How does photography tie into your podcast idea?
Photography pretty much ties into everything we do.  When there is a good story to tell with audio, there is usually an opportunity to capture great photos as well.  One advantage of being a team is that we are able to capture stills and audio at the same time.  Also, we’ve noticed that when most people tune in to a podcast they often become interested in knowing what the characters of the story look like. By capturing both the audio and visual aspect of the story we feel we can provide an even richer picture for the audience.

What’s the line up for the first season?

In Season One we are diving into the story of the Sisters of the Valley, a group of self ordained nuns living in Central California who grow and smoke weed!  We discovered the sisters back in 2016 and the photos we captured went viral in a way we had never experienced before.  We kept in touch with the sisters and over time their operation has continued to grow.  Their CBD business now grosses over a million dollars a year and they have since expanded into Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the UK.  The sister’s have gotten a ton of press in the last few years but what we hope to do with the podcast is to use the long form medium to tell the deeper story of who these women are.

How is the approach to crafting a podcast different or similar to creating images?
The process is actually pretty similar.  Regardless of what tools we are using we keep our focus on discovering what the true heart of the story is and working to capture it powerfully and authentically.

Where do you hope this goes in the next few years?
Over the next few years we plan to continue producing the podcast with each season focusing on a new fringe group.  Our ideas for future seasons include flat earthers, ghost hunters, and more.

Do you listen differently now and how has that affected your photography?
We both hear the world a bit differently since we began the podcast.  In the same way that we are constantly searching for visual elements that will make for good photographs, we now bring that level of attention to sound and conversations.  Whether it’s the crackling of a bon fire, a heartfelt personal story, or even just the sound of silence, we have a whole new appreciation for audio.

The Daily Promo – Darrin Haddad

- - The Daily Promo

Darrin Haddad

Who printed it?
Bestype Imaging

Who designed it?
Joe Haddad

Tell me about the images?
I began this project with the conceptual focus on “Rocks, Paper, Scissors”. The game’s title has an obvious material parallel to stone, paper, and metal, subjects which align with my practice as a still life photographer. I took the material focus as an opportunity to strip back and abstract my usual approach, pushing the combinations of flat and reflective material into extreme geometry. The cyclic nature of the game, however, has another connection. I worked in tandem with my designer on this project, delivering ranges of compositions and angles on each subject as the shoot progressed. He would, in turn, punch in on the subject, further cropping and abstracting each piece of metal or paper until the composition for the book felt completely different from my initial shots. These crops would then inform my new explorations of each composition. In this way we had a back and forth, where each of our practices informs the other.

How many did you make?
500

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is the first one in a series that I plan on sending out every 6 months.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes. Printed pieces are great way to reach creatives who wouldn’t ordinarily see your work. It’s also an opportunity to showcase an interesting personal project or a long-term collaboration. In the end, any way of getting your images in front of prospective creatives is an opportunity not to be dismissed.

This Week in Photography Books: Alexa Vachon

 

It’s Passover coming up this weekend.

(Or Easter, depending on your religious affiliation.)

It’s a holy time of year for the Jewish people, as it represents the Israelites escape from Egypt, fleeing slavery. According to the Torah, (or the Old Testament,) the Jews then spent 40 years in the desert before being allowed into the kingdom of Israel.

To Christians, Jesus was killed during Passover, crucified for his beliefs. Then, according to the New Testament, he was resurrected, as Jesus was the son of God.

I know that in Iran, they have a New Year, or renewal celebration in Spring as well.

Maybe it’s called Narwaz?

(Pause…rare Google break…)

Nowruz. (So close.)

Just like pagan mid-winter celebrations became Christmas, and Catholic churches were built atop Aztec religious sites, ancient belief structures are embedded within later ones, and some human behaviors have remained constant.

Chief among them: when groups of people are threatened with death, they flee.

Whether Jews from the Pharaoh, (or the Nazis thousands of years later,) or Syrians and Afghans in the 21st Century, running for your life is nothing new.

And even countries like ours, famed for the Statue of Liberty-Ellis-Island ethos, have also turned backs on immigrant groups in the past, be they Chinese, Jewish, or Mexican.

To me, little in life is more evil than demonizing the very people who are running from killers. Whether threatened by criminal gangs, like MS-13 in El Salvador, or political groups like the Taliban or ISIS, refugees choose between certain death if they stay put, or the hope of a better life if they make way successfully to the US, Germany, or Sweden.

That a nationalistic counter-reaction was also launched is no surprise, given what we know of history. That DARK, DARK past, from the 19-teens through the mid-1940’s is a reminder that we must take nativism very seriously.

Propagating positive narratives, and humanizing refugees is a pretty excellent way to spend one’s time, if you believe any of what I wrote above to be true.

So big shout out to Alexa Vachon, who sent me her new book “Rise” late last year. It arrived from Berlin with a nice note, and the book is in English, German, and several Central Asian languages I didn’t recognize. (Persian, for sure.)

I think it’s self-published, and there is grant funding thanked at the end, so it seems plausible, despite the excellent production values.

Early on, I parsed that the hand-written text, on certain picture pages, was diaristic by the artist. It is in English, and she mentions being an immigrant, so while I’d normally think American, something reminded me that she could be Canadian as well.

The end notes confirm a Canadian Council for the Arts grant, so we can assume that Ms. Vachon is a Canadian artist living in Berlin, and it seems like she’s been around a while.

The narrative, which I’d call super-inspiring, centers upon CHAMPIONS ohne GRENZEN, a Berlin organization that hooks up native Germans with new refugee immigrants, so they can play soccer together.

Many of the young women have not played before, so it’s a way of integrating people and culture simultaneously.

There are a lot of excellent photos, and also various forms of interview text confirming that running for your life from ISIS, or the Taliban is not for the faint of heart.

If I have any criticism, (and I do,) it’s that there is probably too much of everything here. It could do with a trim of images and text, just because it would tighten the impact of both, I’d suggest.

On balance, though, it’s an excellent book, and in particular I like the subsection of dot-grain-type-black-and-white pictures. I always recommend something to break up the narrative, and this is both clever and cool.

The aforementioned thank you page includes some big names, (including oft-thanked-Alec-Soth,) so it’s clear that Ms. Vachon has some good mentors and/or teachers.

No surprise, given the book’s quality.

But since she sent it to me, I’ll stress the lesson that sometimes, or most of the time, really, less is more. Especially when the heart of your story is so compelling.

Overall, though, a great, inspiring book for the season of renewal and rebirth.

See you next week.

Bottom Line: Lovely, heart-warming book about refugee soccer players in Berlin

To purchase “Rise” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We’re particularly interested in submissions from female photographers, and artists of color, so we may maintain a diverse program. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Sara Forrest

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist:  Sara Forrest

Prom night featuring six juniors in my home town of Topeka, KS. This series is part of an ongoing project on youth in America. I started my photography career in small town Kansas and always am thankful for it. I work now all over photographing ad campaigns and editorials worldwide and owe my drive to this place in the middle of the US. This vast landscape isn’t anything particularly special to many on the coasts, but it is very special to me. It’s a unique perspective to be from here and to have left for so long and to come back and appreciate it. Today it has the faint smell of the spring grassland burns – lush regrowth soon to follow. When life feels spun out due to the crazy work and travel schedules or other circumstances, I always come back and feel grounded and recentered working on this project in this space. It is my hope I can always continue to learn and understand people anywhere in the world, starting with where I started too.

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

 

The Daily Edit – Kodachrome: the lab, the article, the movie.

- - The Daily Edit

Photo by Steve Herbert for the New York Times

For 75 years Dwyane’s photo lab in Parsons, Kansas had been processing Kodachrome film. It’s closing in 2010 inspired many photographers to make the trek to the lab back then, and more recently, a Netflix film called Kodachrome.  The New York Times published an article in 2010 about the lab’s closing and it sparked the idea for the film. The last roll of Kodachrome 64 was handed to none other than Steve McCurry, a long time fan of the film, and you can read about his process along with the 36 images he shot here. Closing credits from the movie include McCurry’s images below


Photography by Steve McCurry: Villagers Celebrating the Festival of Holi, Vrindavan, Rajasthan, India, 1996

Photography by Steve McCurry: Djenne, Mali

This Week in Photography Books: Katherine Longly

 

America is a fast food nation.

We know this.

You may not eat at McDonalds, or Wendy’s, or Burger King, but millions of other people do.

Why?

Because it’s fast, cheap, and packed with flavor and fat. (Of course, all cooks know those last two go together.) Sure, chemical companies supply products that boost the food’s tastiness, but most people don’t care what’s in the crap, as long as it fills them up.

This is not news to you, of course, as billions of words have been written about America’s obesity crisis, and whether anything can be done to slim down our collective waist line.

I know how to keep myself fit, these days, mostly because I’ve had phases in life when I put on weight. I was never obese, thankfully, but chubby, fat, heavy, puffy, or rotund would not have been inappropriate adjectives for me at different times. (As a youth, at my wedding, or the summer of 2016, when I had knee tendinitis.)

Eventually, I realized the body weight math is pretty simple. If you burn more calories than you ingest, you won’t get fat. If you eat a lot more than you burn, consistently, you’re screwed.

In my life, times of weight gain tended to track with stress and unhappiness, but were ALWAYS accompanied by a lack of exercise.

If you eat lots of pizza, drink plenty of beer, and don’t exercise, you’re going to gain weight.

It’s just math.

These days, I’ve added exercise into my life in several ways, and it can be as addictive as the bad substances. So keeping fit, and not going too heavy on the sweets has helped me reach an equilibrium.

(But it took 42 years to figure that shit out, which is nothing to brag about.)

People’s relationship to food often determines whether they’ll be able to maintain a healthy weight, but even more, it depends on their relationships with other people. Over-eating and under-eating, both of which can make a person sick, are often coping strategies, or outlets, for people with unresolved emotional issues.

It’s a fact.

Once the pounds are on, of course, they’re much harder to take off. And when it happens to an entire society, as it has here in America, who the fuck knows how to solve the problem?

Today, though, I’m not actually thinking about it as an American issue. Rather, as most of the world knows, the United States has exported many, if not most, of our major fast food franchises.

So other countries, and their citizenries, are now forced to deal with the same issues, even in places that have long had their own, indigenous, healthy cuisines.

How messed up is that? Our corporations actively make some people, in far-flung places, fat and sick.

USA!
USA!
USA!

(Yes, that was an ironic chant.)

Why am I on about this today? Why not write about all the brilliant food I ate in NYC this week? (I’ll get to that in an upcoming travel piece. With photos this time!)

Well, my musings were inspired by “To tell my real intentions, I want to eat only haze like a hermit.”, a small-batch photo-book that turned up in the mail late last year by Belgian artist Katherine Longly.

Man, is this book cool. Honestly, if I can get more edgy, artsy projects like this from you guys, I’m willing to step off my soap-box and stop bitching about how all photo books look alike.

This submission is different than any before, as Ms. Longly reached out, and offered to send the book to me, if I’d sent it back. (She provided return postage.)

When she explained that it was a prototype, one built by hand, with countless hours of exacting labor, I said, “Sure, why not?” and eventually it turned up in the mail.

Apparently, Ms. Longly spent some time doing residencies in Japan, and this amazing little object was the result.

It opens up with a photo in a sleeve, facing backwards, and when you take it out, you see a photo of a chubby young girl. Right away, I assumed it was the artist. (Not sure why.)

Overall, the book does a deep dive into Japan’s relationship to food, as men have seen an uptick in obesity over the years, some of which is directly attributable to a more Americanized diet. (In particular in Okinawa, due to its US Military history.)

Women, though, face the opposite problem. Due to cultural pressures that are, and are not unique to Japan, (media saturation with young, skinny models and actresses,) many young Japanese women are underweight.

In a society of plenty, (as opposed to their Post-WWII scarcity,) Japanese women are seeing higher rates of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

This is not something for which we can blame Trump, (despite his love of fast food,) but it does seem as if the West has made Japan sicker. (Simultaneously, we fell in love with sushi, which we’ve imported over here like crazy, despite the falling rates of fish in the sea.)

The book features some slick, weird photos at the outset, but then switches to a conceptual approach, in which a set of people living in Japan were asked to make disposable-camera-photographs of their food intake, and share stories about their relationship to it.

Some have eating disorders, some battle with childhood fears of being fat, and others long to cook the best food they possibly can. (Even if it means changing up the type of apples in a family cake recipe.)

Throughout, really cool graphics and research documentation are included, so that facts and stats are mixed with the personal narratives.

And then in the end, we get to see another 4×6 photo of the artist, this time as a grown-up, in a plastic sleeve. (A nice connection to the beginning.)

Like last week, this is a book begging to be photographed, so I’ll make sure to include a lot of pictures down below.

Today wasn’t the day to brag about my New York gluttony, but I’ll get to that in the coming weeks. (Thankfully, I walked so many miles in the city that I came home without any extra pounds.)

Rather, I’ll leave you to contemplate this killer book, which somehow manages to be personal, while also exposing the artist, (and by extension, us,) to an alien culture filled with flavored kit kats and fermented bar snacks.

Bon Appetit!

Bottom Line: Fantastic, original maquette about Japanese food culture

To contact the artist about the book, click here 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We’re particularly interested in submissions from female photographers, and artists of color, so we may maintain a diverse program. 

The Art of the Personal Project: M&P Curtet

- - Personal Project

 

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist:   M&P Curtet

Is there a city more inspirational than Los Angeles?

A city that never stops evolving.  Each street, each corner holds the possibility of a story.  We have always worked to make stories with our images to capture moments in our own cinematographic style.  Up until now, most of these stories have revolved around the automotive world.  We wanted to explore outside of that world.  For this new series we wanted to take advantage of the ever-changing ‘set’ that is downtown Los Angeles and project our style to create an energetic sport/lifestyle story.  In this series we think of Los Angeles as more than just a backdrop, but as the co-star to our strong female lead.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

M&P Curtet are a husband and wife, photography/director team now based in Los Angeles. Marlyne and Patrick work in a symbiotic relationship, their combined talents add a unique depth and quality to their images. Their photographic skills and the emotive resonance of their partnership makes them storymakers with a cinematographic vision. They always relish the challenge of creating a unique and compelling vision for their clients.